Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: Muni Broadband Takes a Backseat

Welcome to your Friday Gigabites. In this week's edition, Tennessee makes broadband headlines, San Francisco struggles with finding the right gigabit model, the cable industry starts DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts and more.

  • Score one for the incumbent ISPs. The state of Tennessee has killed a bill that would have allowed municipal utility companies to expand their broadband service offerings to new regions, pushing off further debate until next year.

    That's not the whole story, however. More than a year ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a ruling saying that Tennessee and North Carolina specifically are not allowed to prohibit muni broadband expansion. That might have prevented Tennessee from killing this year's bill, but the FCC is now locked in a court battle with both states, which are suing the agency for allegedly overstepping its authority. The oral arguments for the case against the FCC were heard this week in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, though it's not yet clear when the court plans to rule on the lawsuit. (See FCC Clears Way for Muni Network Expansion.)

    And to add one further wrinkle, lawmakers in Tennessee were treated to an invitation this week by ISP incumbent Charter Communications Inc. to record their own PSAs as part of Charter's public affairs programming. Representative Kevin Brooks thought the timing was suspect, seeing as how the state House had just done Charter a favor, blocking the path of municipal competitors like Chattanooga's municipally owned (and Gigabit darling) EPB Fiber Optics .

  • Want to learn more about Gigabit Cities? Join us for Light Reading's second annual Gigabit Cities Live event taking place this year on April 5 in Charlotte, NC.

  • Nobody said gigabit broadband was easy. There are multiple gigabit providers now in the Bay Area, but San Francisco is still struggling to speed up widespread deployments. As DSLReports notes, the city published a long report this week detailing potential strategies for getting to gigabit broadband faster. It appears that the preferred method would be a public/private partnership, a deployment model that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

  • Outside of the muni broadband space, there were major advancements this week in the cable industry's race to a gigabit. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced its first DOCSIS 3.1-enabled rollout of gigabit services in Atlanta. And Mediacom Communications Corp. committed to spending $1 billion over the next three years on capital investments, including D3.1 network upgrades that will power the company's Project Gigabit initiative. (See In D3.1 First, Comcast Goes Gig in Atlanta and Mediacom Unveils $1 Billion Capital Upgrade Plan.)

  • Finally, in case you missed it, Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) pushed the gigabit frontier this week with news that it has started 10-Gig trials with a number of customers. The higher speeds come courtesy of next-generation PON technology – XGS-PON – enabling speeds up to 10 Gbit/s in both the downstream and the upstream. (See Adtran Launches 10-Gig Trials.)

    — Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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